Treehouse Adapts to Fill Gaps During Crisis

Among populations most acutely feeling the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic are children and youth in foster care. Seattle nonprofit, Treehouse, which supports more than 8,000 youth in foster care across Washington state, has been adapting to try to mitigate some of that negative impact by funding immediate needs like WiFi access and rent assistance. It is also strategizing ways to connect with kids remotely and fill educational gaps.

“Everything is changing day to day, and the first place that youth in foster care are going to is Treehouse,” Dawn Rains, chief policy and strategy officer at Treehouse, said in a statement. “We’re experiencing increased requests for support from youth who were already at higher risk from a socioeconomic standpoint. The most frequent ask right now is for financial assistance as hours are cut and jobs are lost. We’re also seeing demand for access and support with technology and tutoring as many students prepare for online school.”

Treehouse is taking a statewide approach and has completed surveys for about 13 percent of the 10,000-total youth in foster care across Washington — 12 percent of whom may be at risk of being a runaway during the crisis. On top of that, of the 1,307 surveys for youth in foster care conducted statewide during April, 49 percent expressed an immediate resource need during the COVID-19 crisis.

“The Treehouse Store in King County is currently closed for shopping in compliance with the statewide stay at home order,” Rains said. “However, the Store is adapting to meet the needs of our youth by filling requests for clothing and other critical items and delivering them in person or by mail.”

As there is an expected increase in foster care placement changes, it’s likely that there will be even more requests for clothing, basic hygiene, and technology. Staying engaged in virtual learning has been a problem for many students.

“We expect that we will be doing a lot of work to encourage youth to catch up this summer and reengage in their education this fall,” Rains said.

If you think you or someone you know might be eligible to receive help from Treehouse, read you can find more details here. If you want to get involved, visit treehouseforkids.org to learn about the nonprofit’s work or make a donation.

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is an assistant editor at 425 magazine.
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